On this day: Feb.14: Madonna plays the Roxy (1998), 'Who's That Girl' movie on DVD (2006)

Madonna plays the Roxy, NYC


February 14, 1998
Madonna plays the Roxy, NYC - Madonna performs 3 songs from her Ray Of Light album at New York City's Roxy club.

 

The "Who's That Girl" movie is released on DVD

February 14, 2006

The "Who's That Girl" movie is released on DVD.

Theatrical release poster
 
Directed by James Foley
Produced by Rosilyn Heller, Bernard Williams
Written by Andrew Smith, Ken Finkleman
Starring: Madonna, Griffin Dunne, Haviland Morris, John McMartin, Bibi Besch, John Mills, Robert Swan
Music by Stephen Bray
Cinematography: Jan de Bont
Editing by Pembroke J. Herring
Studio: Guber-Peters Company
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates: August 7, 1987
Running time: 94 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Box office: $7,305,209

Who's That Girl (1987 film)

Who's That Girl is a 1987 American romantic comedy film written by Andrew Smith and Ken Finkleman, and directed by James Foley. It stars Madonna and Griffin Dunne, and depicts the story of a street-smart girl, who is falsely accused of murdering her boyfriend and is sent to jail. After getting released, she meets a man, who is supposed to make sure she gets on her bus back to Philadelphia, and convinces him to help her catch those responsible for her confinement. While searching for the embezzler, they fall in love with each other.
 
After the box-office failure of her 1986 film Shanghai Surprise, Madonna decided to sign another comedy film titled Slammer, which was later renamed to Who's That Girl. However, she had to convince both Warner Bros. and the producers of the film that she was ready for the project. Madonna enlisted her friend James Foley to direct the film. Shooting began in New York in October 1986, and continued until March 1987. Production was halted during December due to snowfall in New York. Madonna utilized the time to work on her next tour and the soundtrack of the film.
 
The film, released on August 8, 1987, ended up being a critical and commercial failure. It grossed $2.5 million in its first week, while its worldwide total was about $7.3 million, most of it coming from European markets. Reviewers were highly disappointed with the film, and Foley's direction. Some went on to call it one of the worst films to be released, while others found Madonna's comic timing to be one of the highlights.
 
However, the Who's That Girl World Tour went on to be a critical and commercial success, grossing a total of US $25 million, and playing in front of 1.5 million audiences. And the soundtrack of the film, though not acclaimed by the critics, enjoyed commercial success. Three of Madonna's songs were released as singles—the title track, "Causing a Commotion" and "The Look of Love", and the album went on to sell six million copies worldwide.

Plot
 Nikki Finn is a carefree, young woman, who is always dressed up in leather jacket and skirt, with fire-red lips, platinum bob hair and speaking in a high-pitched voice. One day, her boyfriend Johnny uncovers two men stealing money out of a trust fund and takes pictures of the theft. Johnny puts the pictures in a safety deposit box and gives Nikki the key, for safekeeping. The thieves catch Johnny and murder him, then frame Nikki by putting his body into the trunk of her car. Nikki is sentenced to seven years in prison.
 
After four years, the story presents tax attorney Loudon Trott (Griffin Dunne) on a busy day. He is getting married to the daughter of one of the richest men in New York, Simon Worthington. Loudon's bride Wendy Worthington (Haviland Morris) is a selfish woman who is more consumed in her wedding plans than in the well-being of her fiancée. Loudon, on the other hand, has a number of duties entrusted to him by Mr. Worthington. First he has to pick up a cougar for an exotic animal activist named Montgomery Bell (John Mills), then to pick up Nikki, and lastly he has to make sure that Nikki catches the next bus to her hometown of Philadelphia.
 
Nikki, meanwhile, is determined to catch the actual thieves and bring forth the truth. After meeting Loudon, Nikki cons him into taking her shopping. After taking a Rolls Royce into Harlem to buy a gun – and nearly being arrested during a police raid – she explains her story to Loudon who believes that she is innocent, and decides to help her. She's also on the run from a pimp named Raoul (Coati Mundi) and his lackey Benny (Dennis Burkley), the people who killed Johnny. Only after dangling off a car smashed through the top floor of a parking garage, does he tell her the bank and the box number of Nikki's slain boyfriend.
 
Afterward Nikki vanishes with the cougar (who she names "Murray"). Loudon visits Mr. Bell to apologize for losing the animal, to find Nikki had delivered Murray and was waiting for him at Mr. Bell's home. He has created a Brazilian rainforest filled with animals on top of his roof. There Nikki and Loudon — who had become close with each other on their journey — express their love for each other, and Murray finds a partner. Loudon delivers Nikki to the bus station the next morning, but Nikki becomes broken-hearted, realizing that she has to go back to Philadelphia, leaving Loudon, who is about to get married. While on the bus, she opens an envelope in the security box and finds the photographs that prove that Mr. Worthington is an embezzler and he was the mastermind behind the theft. Nikki gate-crashes the wedding, gets Mr. Worthington arrested and proclaims her love for Loudon. The film ends with Nikki and Loudon riding off into the sunset on a bus to Philadelphia, with Murray and his partner chasing after them.

Cast list
 Casting for the film began as soon as Madonna had signed up for it. Griffin Dunne was signed to play the part of Loudon Trott, a lawyer whose job was to help Nikki get on a bus, after she was released. Initially Madonna had thought of asking Penn to play the part of Detective Bellson, but Penn was serving a 60-day jail term, having violated the probation he received in 1986, for assaulting a friend of Madonna and attacking an extra on the set of At Close Range. The part went to Robert Swan, followed by the signing of John McMartin, Haviland Morris and Bibi Besch as Trott's father-in-law, fiancée, and mother-in-law respectively. Madonna herself commented that she had a lot in common with the character Nikki. "She's courageous and sweet and funny and misunderstood. But she clears her name in the last, and that's always good to do. I'm continuously doing that with the public. I liked Nikki's tough side and her sweet side. The toughness is only a mask for the vulnerability she feels inside." Madonna was also offered the lead role in the Blake Edwards comedy film Blind Date opposite to Bruce Willis, but she refused it in favor of Slammer. She said, "The thing I had planned to do after Shanghai Surprise was Blind Date at Tri-Star. I was supposed to have the approval of the director and the leading man, but they didn't tell me they'd already hired Bruce Willis. That... just didn't work out. But I was really excited about doing a real physical, screwball comedy, so when Jamie brought this up, it was like my reward." Coati Mundi, member of Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and Madonna's long-time friend joined the cast to play the role of Raoul, Nikki's enemy. Costume designer Deborah Scott was signed to create the wardrobe for the film. Madonna, who visualized the character of Nikki as a dizzy screwball blond, started watching the screwball comedies of the sixties, especially the work of actors like Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Judy Holiday. She asked Scott to create comical rah-rah and ballet tutu skirts for the character, with fishnet tights and loud make-up. Scott also designed a glamorous Monroe-esque dress for the love scene between her and Dunne.

Filming
 Filming began in New York in October 1986. There was a huge crowd around the shooting location trying to get closer to her, whenever she stepped on the set. But Madonna was approachable, signing autographs for the children of the crew, joining in with the wisecracking and when not busy, she used to dance around a boom box with Mundi. When shooting commenced, Madonna would ask for five minutes to study the script and the scene they were shooting; her idea of preparing for the part was not studied. For example, before a scene in which she needed to appear out of breath, she did a series of push-ups before going on set. Always punctual and professional on the set, Madonna felt that her first takes were perfect and refused to appear for second or third takes. Dunne observed that "[Madonna] likes her first take best. I think my best is around fourth. She always says, 'You got it, you got it,' and she was driving me crazy just like her character would. We had to make a compromise as to which take is the best." Once Foley got down on one knee and kissed Madonna's feet in order to encourage her to do a re-take. Afterwards he noted, "She's very instinctual, what comes out is unencumbered by analysis."

Madonna was ready to take direction for her part, relying on Foley to give her all the cues. He, on the other hand, felt that in person, Madonna seemed to morph into a whole different body and self. He believed the process to be oddly elusive and commented that her persona morphing seemed to work most dramatically in Madonna's music videos. "You'd think that that would be the perfect attribute to have for screen acting. But although she 'acts' very well sometimes, she doesn't push the right buttons at the right times over the course of the film. The failure of Shanghai Surprise had left its mark", said Foley. Regarding her acting abilities, Foley stressed on the fact that Madonna was very uptight and into every detail, determined to have the correct portrayal. "That's probably why it wasn't so good. In Desperately Seeking Susan, when she didn't know what she was doing, she was being natural and at her best."
 
As December arrived, production was halted for a few days due to snowfall in New York City. Madonna decided to utilize the time by working on the soundtrack of the film and also started to note ideas for her next concert tour. While recording the title track, Madonna decided to change the film's name from Slammer to Who's That Girl as she felt it to be a better title. Filming commenced in January 1987, with a scene involving a cougar. But during the second take, the cougar accidentally escaped from the cage, resulting in shooting being paused for a few hours. Madonna remained calm, later noting the incident as "extremely frightening, but I did my best to have my composure. That freaked the others more." Mundi felt that "she's got a bit of that perfectionist thing in her. She doesn't rest. She's got the movie, and the soundtrack album, and also planning her Who's That Girl Tour, doing all these stuff at the same time!" By February 1987, Madonna's scenes were already shot although she proceeded to linger on the set to watch Foley and his team work. Foley commented, that having Madonna around the set and not acting was a "pain-in-the-ass" as she "wont skimp especially on cost and she should know that Warner had a tight schedule and constraints on the budget. They still did not trust Madonna when it came to acting. Hell they even gave a greater percentage of the budget to the soundtrack." Filming ended in March 1987, with post-production continuing till July 1987. During the development of the starting credits, Madonna asked Foley if they could have a cartoon figure of her character introducing the film credits. Foley liked the idea, and Warner enlisted cartoonist April March to create the cartoon.

Short TV special featuring interviews to Madonna and James Foley

Soundtrack
The soundtrack from the film was released on July 21, 1987, by Sire Records, and contains four songs by Madonna, and others by her label mates Scritti Politti, Duncan Faure, Club Nouveau, Coati Mundi and Michael Davidson. It is considered a Madonna album by Warner Bros. Records since the majority of the songs are sung by her. Madonna began working on the soundtrack in December 1986, and contacted Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray, both producers of her third studio album True Blue (1986). She needed uptempo and downtempo songs for the soundtrack. The uptempo song, composed by Leonard, ended up being the title track for the film; together, Madonna and Leonard also developed the downtempo ballad "The Look of Love". Two more songs were composed for the film with Bray, the first being the dance-y tune "Causing a Commotion", and the other being "Can't Stop", a track inspired by Sixties Motown and the group Martha and the Vandellas.
 
After its release, Who's That Girl soundtrack received mostly negative reviews from critics, who called it plain and incomplete, although citing the title track and "The Look of Love" as its highlights. The soundtrack was a commercial success, reaching the top ten of the album charts of the United States, Austria, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom, while topping the charts of Germany, and Billboard's European Album chart. Worldwide, the album went on to sell six million copies. Three of the Madonna tracks were released as singles. The title track became her sixth number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, making her the first artist to accumulate six number-one singles in the 1980s, and the first female performer to get that many number-ones as a solo act. "Causing a Commotion" was the second single, and it reached number two on the Hot 100, and the top ten of the charts of other nations. "The Look of Love" was a European market-only release, reaching the top ten in United Kingdom. Another track, "Turn It Up" was a promotional release in United States, reaching the number 15 on the dance charts. (Wiki)
 

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